Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Friday defended his nation's decision to enter into negotiations with the United States about hosting a missile shield facility during an official visit to Hungary.
„The Czech Republic has the right to sign a bilateral agreement on this issue,” MTI news agency reported him as saying after meeting Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. Topolanek said that Prague would consult with both NATO and Russia on the defense system and would attempt to build the potential station on its soil into a „future NATO defense system.” The Czech centre-right coalition on Wednesday agreed to deploy the radar base in the Brdy military zone one hour south-west of Prague. The facility would be part of the controversial US anti-missile defense system, dubbed the Son of Star Wars, which would have a radar station in the Czech Republic and a missile interceptor base in Poland. The two countries are expected to complete talks by the end of the year, and then both chambers of the Czech parliament must approve the deployment.
Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány also seemed to come out in favor of the missile system, saying there was no doubt it would „defend a significant part of Europe.” The decision has drawn criticism from European Union foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana, who on Thursday said that „sovereignty has to be made compatible with the EU's general interest in security.” Russia is also unhappy about the system and has warned it could spark a Cold War-style arms race. The US insists that the system poses no threat to Russia and is essential for broader European security against a long-range ballistic missile threat from Iran. (eux.tv)